The left tackle in the world of professional football is a highly valued commodity. Most QB's are right handed, and the left tackle protects the blind side of what is usually, the highest paid player on the team.
And due to most teams being run-heavy to their right side, the world of the right offensive tackle and the left are somewhat different.
The right OT is usually a mauler, more run blocking oriented. The left tackle tends to be a better pass blocker, normally the better athlete.
And that's where we'll go with this week's Meat-Eater Matchup, which features the Colts 6-7, 307-pound LT Anthony Costanzo locking up with the Steelers 6-4, 269-pound Bud Dupree.
This is a classic boxer versus a high octane brawler matchup. As they say in boxing and MMA, "Styles make the fight." Bud Dupree is a perfect contrast in style to Costanzo.
Costanzo is in his 9th year with the Colts. Extremely durable, he has been a starter since his rookie year.
Being tall and relatively lean, he lines up in a two-point stance much of the time, even when the rest of the line is grabbing dirt from a three-point.
Costanzo is more of a knee-bender than a head-forward waist-bender. Standing tall, with a long punch-radius, and a solid sense of timing, he's raised his game over the years as I've had the opportunity to watch him.
Costanzo is more technical in his skill set than he is a mauler. He works his technique, and works it well. He's not what you would call an extremely physical player, but solid nonetheless in how he goes about his business.
When Costanzo run blocks at the point of attack, he works a solid forklift action, trying to get his hands to the inside position of a players chest-plate on his shoulder pads. However, his height tends to work against him, and he ends up in stalemates often, resulting in position blocks more than drive blocks.
Bud Dupree, as solid as a rock at the point of attack, has a great jam and lockout, and has the edge in strength without question. Dupree can "set the edge," like a wall.
One caveat to this part of the discussion, however, is on outside run plays. Dupree will probably be dealing with multiple TE's from a personnel/formation standpoint that the Colts prefer. But that would take us into another matter altogether.
Dupree's superior ham-hock strength, and overall body strength will serve him well in this matchup. I can't think of a single running play that Dupree can't out-physical Costanzo, as long as he uses solid technique.
But don't confuse Costanzo's proficiency and my comments highlighting his technical prowess as a sign that he's not a tough guy. He is very much a tough guy.
It's simply a matter of his technique, which at this point in his career, outshines his physicality. Nine years in to his NFL career, Costanzo has been "sharpening the sword," for a long time.
Costanzo has good, but not always disciplined footwork when it comes to pass protection. Being tall, he has trouble with the bull rush at times. Those guys who come straight down the middle of a man and try to drive him back into the lap of the QB.
Costanzo will set out slightly towards a wide pass rusher, cutting down the distance and creating smaller angles to engage in hand-to-hand combat with a pass rusher.
When Costanzo is on his game, and facing an up-the-field rusher, he uses his hands very, very well. Using good timing like a superheavyweight boxer, and fighting "tall," Costanzo will just punch the up-field rusher around the arc with good footwork, using "punches in bunches."
However, if Costanzo loses the base-solid, foundational footwork of step-slide, step-slide, and begins to shuffle, (his feet coming close together, like clicking heels) he gets higher in his posture, rather than lower. And that's where trouble can happen.
As I've said before, tall tackles, like Costanzo, are vulnerable to bull rushers. Bull rushers who have tremendous strength and understand body leverage, and how body leverage can be used to multiply their power are extremely dangerous.
Count Bud Dupree as "dangerous," by that definition.
If you catch a tall tackle on his heels, you can over power him. If you catch a tall tackle shuffle stepping, you can overwhelm him.
At times Costanzo will get his feet parallel while he turns towards the sidelines to face a wide rusher. When Costanzo turns towards the sidelines too fast, he also tends to drop his hands.
And that will be key. To get inside the punch radius of Costanzo, get to his core and use leverage to uproot and take away what he does best.
Overall, Costanzo is a better pass blocker than run blocker. He has more trouble with physical, strong bull rushers than fast, up the field mutant pass rushers. He is vulnerable to a hard inside pass rush from a wide "9" position. When he blocks down on a three technique with an OG pulling onside, he can be beat across his face because he doesn't get his head in front, or get his pad level low enough. On the backside of a running play going away from him, he is adequate in his cutoff ability. Lesser so than if there's a bubble over him with a linebacker on the second level. He will have problems getting to the backer.
1.) When Dupree has the opportunity to rush the passer, he can't afford to stay on the outside, letting Costanzo pepper him with punches. Costanzo will simply keep punching Dupree, running him around the arc. Dupree has to take advantage of every opportunity to trap Costanzo's hands (literally knocking them down) and punch to the chest of Costanzo (essentially beating him to the "punch," if you will). Dupree would be wise to work that one-arm stab and lockout to Costanzo's inside (right) shoulder. Anytime Dupree can wade through Costanzo's hands and get to the body, he can outwrestle him in what I refer to as stand-up grappling.
2.) When Dupree runs a twist stunt, or an inside pass rush, he might want to consider lining up wide and sprinting up-field, breaking a hard 45 degrees to the inside on his 2nd or 4th step up-field step while chopping down on Costanzo's arms with his inside (right) arm. A hard cross face pass rush can catch Costanzo with his weight on the rear foot, and his front foot in the air. If he does, it's sack city brother.
3.) Lastly, Dupree should bull rush Costanzo like he's in Pamplona, Spain, running with the bulls. He should put his forehead in Costanzo's chin, double punch to his chest, and climb the body, using that incredible power he has.
Dupree has been steadily developing his pass rush mojo this year. Yeah, he's still a work in progress. But it's coming. He's already recorded 4 sacks, 29 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 1 forced fumble and 6 QB hits in 7 games.
If you watched or were at Heinz Field for the Miami game, and got a gander at the body beat-down Bud Dupree handed to Miami's LT, 6-7, 320-pound J'Marcus Webb, then you got to believe as I do.
Bud Dupree is on the rise….